TEHRAN (Iran News) – It is necessary to prepare a national document and provide the legal infrastructure for expanding educational and cultural activities to develop ecotourism in the country, the director of the Natural History Museum and Genetic Resources of the Department of Environment, has said.
Mohammad Medadi made the remarks in a conference on “Obstacles and Challenges of Using Biodiversity Capacities in the Development of Ecotourism” which was held virtually on Monday.
“The lack of a clear strategy, appropriate mechanism, standards, and local regulations in accordance with the ecology of each region is one of the major challenges in the field of ecotourism.”
Ecotourism, with the least negative effects on the ecosystem and biodiversity of the country, should be considered as a targeted economic activity, he noted.
However, it has no special document and almost no special action has been taken in the field of rules and regulations, so the development of ecotourism without executive standards and proper monitoring mechanism is not possible and is contradictory with the principles of biodiversity conservation, he explained.
Registration of natural monuments, monitoring of nature tours, educating families and individuals for proper interaction with nature and all components of biodiversity, are among the necessities of ecotourism development, which, unfortunately, not employed and cause the destruction of habitats, he concluded.
More eco-lodge guesthouses
The growing tendency of tourists to experience indigenous and local cultures has made them want to get closer to natural and indigenous living conditions, experiencing the old-fashioned way of life, considering that staying in these eco-lodge units is much cheaper than other accommodation centers.
In January 2020, Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism Director Behrouz Omrani announced that Iran has been constructing hundreds of eco-lodge guesthouses over the past couple of years to meet the demands of rising eco-travelers and sightseers.
“At present, issuing guidelines for ecotourism development is on the agenda. Historical villages are amongst target destinations for eco-tourism development,” the official said.
Iran’s tourism body said in 2018 that 2,000 eco-lodges will be constructed nationwide until 2021. Experts say each eco-lodge unit generates jobs for seven to eight people on average so that the scheme could create 160,000 jobs.
Having a very diverse natural setting, Iran offers varied excursions to nature lovers. Sightseers may live with a nomad or rural family or enjoy an independent stay. The country is home to abundant historical mansions, caravanserais, bathhouses, madrasas, and other massive monuments, which can buttress its budding tourism and hospitality sectors if managed appropriately and refurbished properly.
Five ecoregions, rich biodiversity
Each region is defined by its characteristics that play a significant role in a land’s biodiversity and richness, based on which, Iran shares five ecological zones with specific flora from the lowest to the highest parts, namely, Caspian, Iran-Turani, Arasbaran, Zagros, and Persian Gulf-Omani ecological zones.
The great difference between the two latitudes of the north and south of the country and the existence of different plains, altitudes, and climates have given a very diverse view to the vast land so that a variety of vegetation and plant species are grown across it.
The Hyrcanian ecological zone covers the green belt, the southern margin of the Caspian Sea, and the northern profile of the Alborz Mountain range. The forested areas of the region stretch to 2.4 million hectares covering Astara in Gilan province to Glidaghi in Golestan province.
The area of forests in the Iran-Turani ecological region, which covers most of the central plateau of Iran, is 4,666,941 hectares. Based on topographic and altitude conditions, this region is divided into two mountainous regions with a cold climate and a desert with a hot and dry climate.
Arasbaran forests, which are among the semi-humid forests of the country, are located in the province of East Azarbaijan and northwest of Ardebil province, which covers 174,838 hectares.
Some sources date the Zagros oak forests to 5,500 years. The creation and expansion of these forests are due to rainfall raised by the Mediterranean system and the Black Sea, which extends from the Sardasht area of West Azarbaijan to Firoozabad city of Fars province covering an area of 5,440,494 hectares.
The forests of the Persian Gulf-Omani ecological region include part of the southwest and all southern coasts, covering 2,039,963 hectares. Due to ecological differences, the main vegetation is divided into two territories of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.